Monday, June 20, 2011

The Happiness of Crossing Another Finish Line

We have had many chances to meet in the last four years as our work had put us in the same places: Washington, DC; SoCal; Seattle. However, it never happened at the same time. The time that Chris was coming to Seattle in July 2008, I had plans to take her running around our paradisiacal bodies of water, but I had an emergent trip to Huntsville, AL, one week before she arrived.

Now that she was going to Portland, OR, and an inaugural Vancouver Marathon and Half was scheduled during her stay (Vancouver, WA, border with Portland), driving 200 miles was for me worth the effort.  Blogger friend Chris and myself had a wonderful weekend ahead of us to combine friendship, sharing, chatting, chatting, (did I mention chatting?), AND running a race together.

The first shared activity was going to the Expo for packet pick up. The highlight of the Expo was meeting Bart Yasso, an inspiration for all runners; a man that has raced more than 1,000 races and was inducted in 2007 into the Running USA Hall of Champions. We chatted with him for a while, not knowing who liked to talk more. We bought his book, “My Life on the Run”, he gave us his autograph, signed our bib numbers, and wished us the best.

Then we needed to fuel ourselves and headed for lunch at Mami Coll’s in one of the 600 truck courts that Portland offers. Owner Gerardo Coll offered us the Venezuelan main dish: Pabellon Criollo. It was simply delicious. I have eaten Pabellon in some places in the Pacific Northwest, but the recipe is modified somehow to the point that loses the traditional flavor. Mami Coll’s was authentic. The platter was very tasty, had a good size for normal people, and at an excellent price, but I would’ve/could’ve/should’ve eaten two of those. Reasons are that it was SO good AND that I don’t eat as “normal” people do. I eat a lot, and don’t get full easy. This time I controlled myself and regretted the whole afternoon for not having eaten a second platter. The “arroz con coco” (coconut rice pudding) was amazing, and, trust me, I am not a coconut fan, never been, but this was very good. Highly recommended.

On Sunday we left early to our race. Met with Bart again, and I was able to confirm what Amby Burfoot, American marathoner, and the winner of the 1968 Boston Marathon, had written in Bart’s book foreword: Bart remembers most of people's first names. AND IT'S TRUE: On race day, the first thing he said when he saw me was: Hi Lizzie!!! He knew my name the day before as he asked for it to sign a personalized autograph!!!

The race was fantastic; the weather was good, drizzling, and 60F totally overcast (though there were some sun breaks now and then, when we felt really warm). The course was very pretty, being my favorite parts running by Fort Vancouver and by MY River, the mighty Columbia. Chris and I chatted all along. We stopped to kinda “play” with rock bands; to chat with people; to take pictures; to dance at the rhythm of Caribbean music while a guy was playing timbales. Noteworthy to mention that this guy happens to live in Orlando (where Chris lives) and happened to live the first nine years of his life in Caracas (where I was born and raised)… Wasn’t that weird?

The time flew and there was the moment for the final sprint. Chris and I ended our race with that unique guaranteed feeling that all runners have experienced: The Happiness of Crossing Another Finish Line.

Chris and Bart
Pabellon Criollo at Mami Coll's Portland, OR
Mami Coll's, Portland, OR. Authentic Venezuelan Food

1 comment:

Petraruns said...

What an amazing report! Lucky you two for getting to meet and you really made the best of it - well done you two! LOVEd your meeting Bart - he is so nice on FB as well. You live life to the full sweet Lizzie Lee - it's always an inspiration!